Monthly Archives: December 2012

Save the sea turtles

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The grass is always bluer . . . in Nashville

Bluegrass? At the Station Inn in Nashville, TN, the bluegrass is served as the appetizer, main course, and dessert. Also on the menu are soft drinks, beer, frozen pizza, popcorn, and Moon Pies.

No matter, because on the one night that we’re in town, a Grammy-nominated performer (Shawn Camp) in a room of about 150 people. His band included a ripping hot mandolin artist along with a bass guitarist, a drummer, and a string bass player plus one guy who alternated on both slide guitar and fiddle.

They played full out on several numbers, winning us over immediately

I guess we were all reluctant, but loved it. Even Carol–who usually won’t allow bluegrass within a lawn mower swath of our stereo.

Chris Henry on the mandolin was a highlight. He’s tall, especially for such a shorneck instrument in his hands. He rocked and pumped his legs a bit with thte beat and chrned out plinkety bluegrass pickin’ as easily as ordering another beer.

The Station inn is old school. The exterior has one fluorescent sign. Inside a small stage area, seating at small tables, and a bar off to one side. The lady taking our ticket money is seated on a barstool at the door, and you’re not going to get past her until your cash is added to her cigar box. There’s a pile of twenties and another of fives. No coinage involved. No receipts or tickets or hand-stamps either. But on our way out she said good-bye to us and asked us to be sure to come again. We got the feeling that she hadn’t recognized us as regulars.

More on: Shawn Camp bluegrass musician, songwriter, performer, and producer

Key West driving

A return trip to Florida is getting close: all the way to Key West. I think the route down through the Keys should be known as the “Heming-Way,” but my affinity for the bad pun probably means that I’m the only one that thinks that so I probably shouldn’t mention it too often.

Never been to any of the Keys, so I am pretty psyched including the following activities in my psych-ness:

  • reading up on Hemingway’s life— mostly I am relying on 2011’s big Hemingway book titled Hemingway’s Boat: Everything He Loved in Life and Lost, by terrific writer Paul Hendrickson. It details EH’s acquisition and use of PILAR the beautiful fishing powerboat that he piloted in and around Cuba and the Keys for over twenty years. But also so much more, including his relationships with his wives, children and various girlfriends, publishing friends, and other writers and celebrities of the times. It’s the first book I’ve ever read about Hemingway, so my knowledge base is pretty feeble, and I learned a lot. Planning to re-read on the trip.
  • reading some Hemingway stories–I have his stories in the form of, The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: The Finca Vigia Edition. (Finca Vigia being their home estate in Cuba) I started with “Big Two-Hearted River” and “The Killers,” and now I’m working my way through as many as I can.
  • looking at maps and guidebooks–and I may even bring one along on the trip, if I can remember to pack it this time!
  • making sure there is oil in the car–we’re driving all the way down in one car, along with spouse’s brother and his wife. I’ve decided that it’s one way of doubling MPG of the vehicle you’re driving, and that is to share the vehicle with more people. My first drive to Florida I was all by myself in a VW Jetta, and I got about 34 MPG I think. Then Carol and I drove together in my C280 and got about 27 MPG (actual) which worked out to 54 MPG once you figure that both of you are getting MPGs together in the same car. With four of us, we should be over 100 MPG without too much effort.

How to get to Wrigley Field

“Whenever I worked Wrigley Field, I looked beyond centerfield and out into the bleachers. My mind goes back to when I was eleven years old and I sat in those same bleachers.

“I was born and raised in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, 153 miles from Chicago. I used to listen to Cubs games on the radio and tried to imagine ‘Beautiful Wrigley Field‘ that the announcers were talking about. It was always my big dream to visit Wrigley Field and see the Cubs play. But 153 miles was a long trip back then, and my father was a working man who couldn’t get the time off to take me to a game. Some folks think I’m stubborn now, and I guess I was stubborn then, because I made up my mind that I’d go by myself. There was just one thing wrong with that idea–I didn’t have dad’s permission . . .

I walked out to Highway 41–remember I was eleven years old–and stuck out my thumb and hitchhiked all the way to Wrigley Field. Now that’s a Cubs fan!

“As you might guess my family was worried and reported me missing–their boy, a runaway. Although I had slipped away without telling my parents, I had bragged about my plans to everyone else in Oshkosh. When my parents became worried, someone must have let them in on my secret. The next day I was back at Wrigley Field, enjoying my second Cub game, when a couple of Chicago police officers picked me up and put me on a train back to Oshkosh.”

–Major league umpire “Dutch” Rennert reminiscing, as quoted in A Day at the Park: In Celebration of Wrigley Field by William Hartel, Sagamore Publishing, 1994.

Laurence Henry “Dutch” Rennert was born on June 12 of 1934 which would have made him eleven years old during the summer of 1945 and the spring of 1946. Personally I’m guessing that it’s more likely that he took his thumb ride in 1946, because he would have been going on 12 and that’s the sort of thing a twelve-year-old would do. There also might have been more long-distance automobile traffic because gas rationing had ended. In 1945 the Cubs won the National League pennant and played in the World Series, losing to the Detroit Tigers.